When he was just six, Daniel Hazelhoff moved to Valencia from the States and had a happy childhood here in eastern Spain. More than two decades later, he reflects on whether Valencia is best suited as a home or for a holiday…
Recently, I pondered whether my adopted city of Valencia is best suited as a home or for a holiday. It’s a tough question.
Thinking back to the stressful days of 6am Tube rides and commutes in London, packed like overly salted sardines, sweating our own brine out on one another only to freeze my toes off upon exiting the tube.
Cut to Valencia, 20°C on an agreeably pleasant December day, eating a menu del dia at about €10, including a caña and a coffee. It’s a no-brainer.
Life moves at a slower pace here, and to be fair, that might not be for everyone. Those who enjoy a high-paced lifestyle can surely find one here. However, the fact of the matter is, life seems more relaxed in Valencia. Midday siestas after a big lunch’s modorra (the feeling of exhaustion one gets after a large meal) leaves the city noticeably more empty from 3-5. Then the evening shift begins and the gears begin to turn once more, with more life and energy than before.
It’s safe to say that midday breaks aren’t for everyone. And the appeal of a slower rhythm might rub you up the wrong way. Especially if you need to get things one in a hurry. Pre-emptive strikes are the way, anticipate disaster before it unfolds upon your doorstep. However, those that enjoy the peace and quiet of their own minds will have found their spiritual home.
Bite-sized is the perfect size
The city is large enough to not feel repetitive, and there’s always something to discover. At the same time, it’s small enough to be able to access the whole centre by bicycle. No more early morning Tube commutes… Hallelujah! And even if you do need to take one, at least you’ll have space to breathe.
One truly negative thing about Valencia, or more so, Spain, is their approach to small business, and self-employment. In order to be freelance – autónomo – one must pay a monthly fee of €367.84 with a 30% income tax. This lack of incentive might be linked to the uprise in digital nomads.
Many of the expats one can meet around Valencia form part of the growing digital nomad community. Where individuals need nothing more than their laptops and an internet connection to do their work. Many companies from the UK, Netherlands, Germany and Sweden, for example, pay much higher salaries to their workers, and you can do a lot of this work remotely. Pair a high wage with the cheap prices and weather of Valencia, and you have a profitable equation.
Valencia’s recent accolades regarding Smart Tourism, and the World Capital of Design have attracted unique individuals with a penchant for creating their own mark on the world. With the time and energy a Valencia lifestyle provides, one can pursue one’s passions at one’s own pace. These people add to the general colour and allure that Valencia naturally emanates.
So Valencia: home or holiday?
With rental prices low, albeit slowly rising, neighbourhoods such as Ruzafa and El Carmen are still viable options for expats looking to rent in hip and lively areas. However, you can find cheaper rents in areas such as El Cabanyal and Benimaclet, somewhat more run-down, but with their own unique charm and ambience.
So. To answer the question. Valencia: home or holiday? I think it is clear that for me, I am proud to call it home. And I am just as happy if others choose it as their perfect holiday.
In fact, from the vivid orange sunsets to world-class gastronomy, to €1.75 for a caña, Valencia can be your new home or your holiday destination of choice. If you’re still on the fence about it, have a bike ride through the river, and grab an Agua de Valencia at Sant Jaume, or Cafe de Las Horas.
That should get you off the fence. Probably in the Humpty Dumpty manner. That stuff is lethal.